The Martial Arts Behind Hollywood’s Greatest Fights

April 29, 2016

How much better would “Shakespeare in Love” be if Gwyneth Paltrow had thrown a tornado kick or two into ole’ Billy’s jaw? Or how about a Muy Thai match in the second act of Titanic?

Alas, we must settle for the few gems a year Hollywood cranks out that feature heart-pounding martial art fight sequences. But how authentic are these martial arts, showcased by our favorite actors? We’ve all seen the behind-the-scenes footage where the sweaty actor claims to have spent hours on end training with an expert, but does all that training actually translate to film? The answer is surprisingly nuanced.

Most films that feature a lot of choreographed fight sequences frequently use a combination of many different martial art styles. Unsurprisingly, this is due to the fact that no one martial art looks that great on film. It takes a variety of styles to make the spectacular fight scenes that movie-goers love. Here’s an inside look at some of Hollywood’s most iconic uses of martial arts.

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    Muay Thai

    This combat style also goes by the name of “the art of 8 limbs.” Do I even need to say anything else? You’ll be fighting like a freaking arachnid! This Muay Thai Class offers a full-body workout consisting of stand-up striking and even some clinching techniques. Along with increased stamina and flexibility, Muay Thai training will help improve your strength, balance, and coordination. You’ll also develop the proper form and footwork technique to take down the biggest opponent (think Andre the Giant). Who would want to fight someone with 8 effective and dangerous limbs? Exactly.
    Muay Thai

    10654 Magnolia Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Gain confidence and impress your friends when you learn the art of Muay Thai
    • Learn and begin to master the techniques of Muay Thai
    • Enjoy a challenging workout that will get you in shape and make you feel great
    • Try different, fun exercises to tone your body and defend yourself
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    Sword / Edge Weapons

    Is there challenge in your life that you’re afraid to confront? This holistic weaponry class will help you confront any obstacles, physical or otherwise, that may be holding you back. Experienced professionals will teach you about the study of ancient weapons, and help you learn a form of combat that was initially developed out of necessity, only using the household items at hand. During this class you’ll learn to use weapons of the past including a variety of Swords, Long Stick, Short Sticks, Boken, Shinai, Jian, Articulated Double Sticks, Three Articulated Sticks, Throwing Knives, and Night Stick. You will also study a warrior’s discipline, which will help you emerge victorious in your daily battles of life. Go forth and conquer!
    Sword / Edge Weapons

    12045 Magnolia Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn how to defend yourself and have courage in the face of challenges
    • Practice the art of combat with a variety of Swords, Long Stick, Short Sticks, Boken, Shinai, Jian, Articulated Double Sticks, Three Articulated Sticks, Throwing Knives, and Night Stick
    • Develop coordination, discipline, and precision, while getting some exercise
    • Have fun learning a new skill and making friends!
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    1 positive reviews
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    Beginner Krav Maga - Sherman Oaks

    Learning any form of self-defense is great, but what elevates a particular teaching is if it just as street-practical as it is classroom-effective. During this entry-level class, you’ll pick up the basics of Krav Maga, a form of self-defense used by the Israeli Defense Forces. You’ll learn Krav Maga’s fighting stance and movement, various punches, kicks, and how to defend yourself against chokes, headlocks, and wrist grabs. At Krav Maga Worldwide LA, you’ll engage in reality-based training that simulates real life violent confrontations. Learn from experienced instructors who are certified by the Israeli Ministry of Education AND the Krav Maga Association of America! With great practice and discipline, you’ll find yourself becoming stronger both physically and mentally. Develop an aggressive fighting spirit without sacrificing safety!
    Beginner Krav Maga - Sherman Oaks

    15233 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks

    • Learn the fundamentals of Krav Maga, a form of self-defense used by the Israeli Defense Forces
    • Practice maneuvers that are not only effective, but also street-practical
    • Develop your physical and mental strength through drills and self-discipline
    • Train under the best instructors certified by both the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Krav Maga Association of America
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    1 positive reviews
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    Boxing

    Yo! Champ-in-the-Making! Lace up the gloves and step into the ring at Back to Basics Fitness, in this introductory Boxing Class. Both ladies and gents are welcome to participate. You’ll practice techniques in punching, footwork, and dodging, while working the entire body for speed and agility. Every class offers something new, and future Golden Glove-winners of all athleticism and ability are welcome. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the early stuff, you’ll pop on a helmet and step into the ring for some live sparring! What are you waiting for? It’s your time to shine
    Boxing

    2914 Foothill Blvd, La Crescenta

    • Learn the basics of boxing, from experienced professionals who are boxing experts
    • Get in shape while practicing the same boxing and fitness drills the professionals use
    • Strap on a helmet and hit the ring for some light contact sparring
    • Acquire important self-defense skills that will build self-confidence and might help you out in a pinch
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    Boxing

    You were late to work, you spilled coffee on your white shirt, and you lost the keys to your place. Really, all you want is a boxing session to vent your frustration. You’ve simply outgrown the old scream-into-your-pillow trick. Whatever the case may be, this boxing class at A4 Fitness has something in store for everyone! Fun, informative, and safe, boxing is a great way to get rid of your frustrations, build endurance, and learn how to protect yourself. Under the guidance of an experienced boxing coach, you will learn effective combinations of footwork, balance and head movement that will help you better understand defense and punch delivery. So not only are you getting a great, mind-clearing workout in, but you’re also training -- disciplining -- your body to move in technical, calculated ways.
    Boxing

    2210 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn what boxing is all about under the guidance of experienced boxing coaches
    • Run through combinations of footwork, head movement, and punch delivery
    • Gain a better understanding of how to use the structure of your body to defend and to deliver hard-hitting punches
    • Loosen up and sweat out your frustrations during this hour session
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    Muay Thai

    Do you find yourself always zoning out -- maybe even on the verge of falling asleep -- while you’re running on the treadmill? If you need to spice up your daily workout routine with something that will surely keep you awake and energized, give Muay Thai a try! Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is Thailand’s national combat sport. Also a form of self-defense, it engages the entire body, focusing especially on a combination of the hands, feet, elbows, and knees as striking tools. A typical Muay Thai class involves training your footwork, movement, and balance, as well as your ability to throw and to clinch. Who needs a treadmill machine when you can transform your own body into a fighting machine?
    Muay Thai

    2210 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn the fundamentals of Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing -- the country’s national sport
    • Use a combination of your hands, feet, elbows, and knees as powerful striking tools
    • Improve your stamina and overall fitness with a strict regiment of footwork, movement, balance, and more
    • Practice developing hand-to-hand weapons
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    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    BJJ has become a wildly popular form of martial arts training thanks to its undisputed success in mixed martial arts tournaments. Xaction Sports Club is one of the top schools in the area and specializes Jiu Jitsu and grappling! Since practitioners of BJJ excel in ground fighting, you’ll be learning a host of takedown methods to drop your opponent fast. From there, you'll focus on joint locks, chokes, and grappling motions to immobilize and subdue the aggressor. In addition, you’ll develop body control, flexibility, and strength along with the mental benefits that come from martial arts training. Whether for sport, fitness, or protection, jiu-jitsu will put success in your hands!
    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    4795 Vineland Ave, Los Angeles

    • Master the fundamentals of one of the most effective martial arts in practice today
    • Learn to overcome opponents with takedowns and grappling techniques
    • Develop second-nature combat reflexes through drills and sparring
    • Enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that come from studying self-defense
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    Beginners Krav Maga

    Developed for the Israeli armed forces, Krav Maga is a no frills, devastatingly effective system of self-defense. Designed to be practical and intuitive, it’s perfect for practitioners of all shapes and sizes. Under the guidance of your expert instructor, you will practice proper fighting stances and powerful strikes, and defensive moves like blocks, headlocks, and choke-holds. As you train, you’ll develop speed, coordination, incredible core strength, and the confidence to defend yourself against an opponent of any size.
    Beginners Krav Maga

    13347 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn fundamental Krav Maga moves and techniques, just like they are taught in Israel
    • Improve endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, and posture
    • Learn hand-to-hand combat and counter techniques against chokes, bear hugs, and take-downs
    • No experience necessary
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    Capoeira

    If you want to experience a dynamic and fun workout that not only whips you into shape fast, but also has practical application in the real world, then look no further! This class offers you step-by-step instruction in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, which actually doubles as a fighting system and an extremely useful self-defense system. Enjoy an exciting, challenging, and fun workout as you learn basic Capoeira movements such as kicks, jinga, and acrobatic sequences, all while improving your overall health, self-confidence, flexibility, and body control. This class is designed to be low impact and easy on the joints, but is still focused on maximizing calorie burn. The class will conclude with a training session where you’ll get to demonstrate your new skills against other students, set to the tune of live Capoeira music!
    Capoeira

    7561 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn the basic moves of the Afro-Brazilian self-defense system, Capoeira
    • Build skills and techniques, and gain insight on effective kicks, jinga, and acrobatics
    • Improve upon your self-defense skills, flexibility, and body control
    • Experience the vast number of benefits practicing a martial art can offer you
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    Tai Chi/Qi Gong

    Phones buzz, taxi cabs rush, day turns to night and back again -- in the middle of all that action it’s easy to forget about things as simple as the seasons and the stars. Reconnect with the natural life cycles and open your mind with World Pa Kua Health’s Tai Chi class. This class takes a holistic approach to tai chi, disciplining the mind as well as the body. Your experienced instructor will teach you about Tai Chi’s connection with the natural life cycles and personal introspection, giving you a chance to access higher awareness, awaken your true nature, and develop your potential. You’ll learn the basics of tai chi, but you will also discover how the martial art improves health, develops a sense of internal calm, and follows the movements of the universe and the cosmos. Why bother reaching for the stars, when you can reach with them?
    Tai Chi/Qi Gong

    12045 Magnolia Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn the philosophy and history behind Tai Chi
    • Practice slow movements in order to learn fighting and self defense techniques
    • Develop strength, control, form, flexibility, and muscle tone
    • Have fun while learning a new skill and making friends!
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    1 positive reviews

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